The Cost Of Owning 150,000 Foreclosed Homes

By Tamara Keith

A lawn maintenance worker mows the lawn of a foreclosed Lanham, Md., home. Fannie Mae spends tens of millions of dollars a year just on lawn maintenance for the more than 150,000 foreclosed properties on its books. When you are the nation’s largest owner of foreclosed homes, even little things can get expensive fast. Such is the case for mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which as of March 31 had a mind-boggling 153,000 foreclosed homes on its books. “This is just one of the costs that Fannie and the rest of us will pay to dig out of a very big hole,” says Karen Petrou, who watches Fannie Mae’s books closely at her firm Federal Financial Analytics. When she says “the rest of us,” she means it. Fannie Mae’s tab from U.S. taxpayers is up to $86 billion since September 2008 when it was taken into government conservatorship.”If they don’t maintain the houses, then the neighborhoods go downhill, other people are put at risk and the housing crisis gets worse because you have still more downward pressure on overall house prices,” Petrou says.